Poles and the fury expressed by the Russians) was varied over this
question of guilt. The majority of those who formulated the views
simply did not wish to admit the possibility of such a terrible blow to the
' united front' of the Allied Nations. It was a test and they did not
consider it to be an opportune moment for a test of such kind as this.
The main reason why the Soviets severed diplomatic relations with
Poland was inserted at the end of the Note, and worded in the typically
Soviet manner. They alleged that the Polish Government was trying to
cc extort " from the Soviet Union " territorial concessions at the expense
of the Soviet Ukraine, Soviet White Ruthenia and Soviet Lithuania."
The Note, therefore, presented the Polish Government, whose action
had been limited to the preservation of its own territories, as thec attacking
Power,' and the Soviets as the c defending Power.'
According to Soviet reasoning, the war started only on June 22, 1941.
Before that date it was merely a struggle between the imperialist Powers.
Thus Moscow chose to consider her ]Empire as the one within the frontiers
of that year. Therefore, the Kremlin presented Eastern Poland as
Soviet territory in its Note, and the Government of Poland as an € im-
perialist Power ' and as Russia's successor in the camp of Hitler.
One fact was made clear—Moscow intended to hold on to the Polish
territory as far as the * Ribbentrop-Molotov Line * of 1939, without
waiting (as London and Washington suggested) until the end of the war
for the settlement of frontier problems. Lack of success in achieving
their designs would not deter the Soviets, simply because such designs
were and are normal features of the life of any imperialist Power. Failing
to get even an indirect answer from the Allies, Stalin had put his demand
regarding Eastern Poland into action directly, and in his own name,
Russia's relations with Poland were now merely a burden to Stalin and,
taking advantage of the first opportunity., he had severed them.
The Note of April 25 " sizzled with anger," but many speeches and
statements in the Soviet regime are couched in terms unusual to the
diplomacy of other countries, for while strong words might make no
impression on the opponent, they would impress their own people.
Impulsiveness was not one of the features of the masters of the Kremlin.
Stalin, as perhaps the greatest diplomat ever to have occupied the throne
of the Tsar, coldly considered every problem, and it was most unlikely
that even a Note worded in such an unusual manner was the expression
of a fit of temper.
Was this first break in the camp of the Allies the result of a long-con-
sidered plan, the beginnings of a Russian independent policy towards the
settlement of the problems of Eastern Europe, Central Europe, in fact,
of all Europe ? And, above all, was it an expression of the Russian feeling
of supremacy in the game, and the first warning to Britain? The
commentator of the C.B.S., broadcasting from Moscow on April 28,